BENNINGTON -- A North Bennington man was convicted Tuesday of pressuring a woman into sex by repeatedly asking for it while withholding from her the use of a car she needed for work.

Joseph F. Smith, 34, was convicted by a jury of repeated aggravated sexual assault, and attempted sexual assault after a two-day trial. A sentencing hearing has not been held, but attempted sexual assault carries a three-year minimum while aggravated repeated sexual assault is a 10-year minimum. Both charges carry life maximums. Smith is currently incarcerated.

The jury acquitted him of misdemeanor domestic assault, and interference with access to emergency services. The state dismissed one count of lewd and lascivious conduct, which Deputy State's Attorney Christina Rainville said was filed in connection with one of the sex assault counts.

Rainville, in her closing arguments, played a recording the woman made of a conversation between her and Smith during which she refuses his requests for sex well over 200 times. Rainville kept a tally for jurors as the recording played. She also showed a lengthy exchange of text messages between Smith and the woman showing similar behavior.

The incidents occurred between May and September 2012, according to court records.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.



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